Thursday, May 03, 2007

Tyranny, thy name is Hugo

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Another day, more tyrannizing by Hugo Chavez.

Hey, it's what he does, and he does a lot of it.

What's more accurate, the Soviet Union of Venezuela or the National Socialist Republic of Venezuela? Take your pick. There may not yet be totalitarianism in that country, but it's pretty clear where Chavez is going with his slice-by-slice dismantling of anything and everything resembling liberal democracy.

Here's the latest on the nationalization front:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has threatened to take over the country's private banks and largest steelmaker.

But he said he would refrain from nationalisation if the firms began to work in the "national interest".

Which is to say, if they do what Chavez wants them to do. That's the national interest in Venezuela. How grotesque. I defy anyone to defend what Chavez is doing.


Oh, here's a photo from the Globe. It would be more amusing if it weren't for the fact that the head honcho is a tyrant and that his pals aren't much better. "From left to right, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Cuban Vice-President Carlos Lage, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Haitian President Rene Preval prepare for the official photograph during their Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas meeting in Tintorero, Venezuela."

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  • Of course Chavez is wrong. Only George Bush is allowed to mercilessly run a democracy into the ground.

    Let me know when Chavez has invaded another country, tortured suspects, or suppressed the freedom of Venzuelans to travel freely.

    I'm not under any illusions about Chavez, but I think Venzuelans are getting better government than we are here in the States. At least they're undoing the damage done by hereditary wealth and a winner take all economy.

    By Blogger Mark Gisleson, at 5:39 PM  

  • Dearest Mark,

    Yep, that's right, anyone who criticizes a foreign government is obviously by implication giving a free pass to George Bush. (Your logic seems to be based on "The enemy of my enemy is my friend.") Makes a lot of sense. And obviously by Michael's writings, he's a hug Bush supporter, right?

    I know this sounds crazy, but what's wrong with standing against tyranny in all its forms, wherever it may be, whether here or abroad?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:48 AM  

  • Nothing. Now explain to me why, to an average citizen of Venzuela, things are worse now than they were before Chavez?

    Chavez threatens money, not Bush. Is he a despot? Wrong question.

    Right question? Is he a bigger despot than his predecessor?

    By Blogger Mark Gisleson, at 10:52 AM  

  • Wow, you really are quite clueless aren't you? Let's go through each of your five bullet points.

    Rule by Decree: Here's a quick reminder of recent Venezuelan politics - the opposition boycotted the last elections. So obviously, they gained a grand total of 0 seats. Because of this Chavez has unanimous support from the Venezuelan people's representatives - he virtually rules by decree anyway, holding voting sessions is a complete waste of time and money.

    One Party State: Oh my, a coalition government. All Chavez is doing is booting out the parties in his government that he doesn't think are compatible with his own. Note that he is not banning those parties, he is merely removing them from his government (not the state) - a perfectly democratic thing to do. They are free to compete against his united socialist party in elections, he just does not think it is suitable to govern alongside them. You claiming this is somehow "tyrannical" is like saying that the British Liberal Democrats refusal to form a coalition with the SNP is tyrannical.

    Nationalisation of key companies/ Seizure of Private Property/ Seizure of Private Oil Fields: I think that all these points can be lumped into one big point on nationalisation. Now when you say he is "seizing" this private property, do you think that it is coming into Hugo Chavez's possession? No. It comes into the state's protection. In a democratic society, which as you can ask any of the thousands of electoral observers sent to Venezeula, Venezuela is, the government which runs the state is chosen by the people. The government is chosen by the people to represent them, and to do as the people will. Thus, the nationalisation undertaken by Chavez is not tyrannical, rather it is democratically warranted by the populace of Venezuela. I also love how you use the word "seizure". Oh dear, how terrible it must be for the upper and middle classes to lose their inherited oil wealth and for it to be redistributed to the poor. How terrible it must be for a bunch of social darwinists to lose the money they got from their 48 hour week job in oil company management daddy gave them, and have that money go to industrial workers and farmers who work ten hours a day, seven days a week to survive. Yes, of course, you Democrats are the ones who care about the bottom 99% in society. Nationalisation itself is neither tyrannical nor undemocratic, in fact far from it. If you protest against unfair treatment in a corporate owned workplace, not only do the owners not give a damn, but they can simply turf you out, especially now that the Unions have been weakened significantly and thus mass strikes that would have an effect are less likely. If you protest against unfair treatment in a state owned workplace then you are effectively protesting against government policy - unlike a CEO a President directly needs the votes of the workers to stay in power so he has to listen.

    Now here we can spin your "Chavez is a tyrant" argument on its head. You could very well argue that politicians in fact don't listen to what the voter says - hence why we're still in Iraq despite popular opposition. The only participation a person has in a liberal representative democracy is on election day, and even then the power they have over their representatives is severely limited. Their so called "representative" is elected to represent his own views, not his electors. So if a populace were to vote for a Democrat based on their wish for an immediate and complete withdrawal from Iraq, that Democrat could just go the next 2-4 years pushing for limited withdrawal like that which Hillary Clinton supports - clearly he doesn't care too much about what the people think. It's not like they could get angry with his failure to represent their views anyway, the only alternative would be a Republican who would be even worse. Thus, the populace does not have a true democratic voice.

    What has this got to do with Chavez? Well Chavez advocates something called participatory democracy - a concept that is one of the most important parts of Socialism and Communism. This is the idea that, believe it or not, a worker participates to his fullest capabilities in democracy - something that is not the case in the Liberal Democracy you advocate. If we have councils (Soviet = Council) which are basically groups of workers rather than the elected councils that are present in places like Britain, then everyone can get involved in democracy - each person being a part of one of these councils. They are allowed to voice their concerns to their representatives directly, rather than having to scurry about with a petition. Out of these councils representatives would be elected (in the initial soviet system, it was 1:500 for ratio of representatives:workers) who could be removed by referendum at any time. So if the representative doesn't do what the people tell him to, he's out straight away. No parties involved, or perhaps a single governing "party" which the councils are based around (what a one party state is actually intended to be, not what Stalin made of it) so people don't have to get stuck between one rubbish Democrat and one worse Republican.

    The idea of participatory democracy is much, much more democratic than "Liberal Democracy", and Chavez is clearly doing what he can to implement it. Many foreign observers sent by European government to report on how terrible the Chavez government is actually came back saying that they'd never seen anything so democratic. But of course, the so called "alternative" in western society, the Democrats who are nanometres away from the Conservative-Fascism of the Republican party on the political scale, can't handle that people in other countries are finally able to give themselves their own opportunities and alternatives rather than be forced to swap around between two parties that represent themselves and their financers more than the common man.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:33 PM  

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